Former President Donald Trump filed a defamation lawsuit against ABC News and George Stephanopoulos over a viral interview with Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) on the subject of Trump’s sexual abuse of E. Jean Carroll.

Mace and Stephanopoulos went viral after they got into it over her support for former President Donald Trump after an E. Jean Carroll civil trial victory affirming that, as Judge Lewis Kaplan put it in a ruling, “Trump ‘raped’ her as many people commonly understand the word ‘rape.’ Indeed, as the evidence at trial recounted below makes clear, the jury found that Mr. Trump in fact did exactly that.”

The distinction between what Judge Kaplan called “rape” as it is “commonly understood” and “sexual abuse” as it appeared in the verdict of one of the trials is at the crux of a suit that Trump filed — a suit that misidentifies him as “President Donald J. Trump”:

This is an action arising from Defendants’ transmission and publication of intentionally false and defamatory statements made to numerous third parties about Plaintiff President Donald J. Trump. More specifically, and as set forth in greater detail below, on Sunday, March 10, 2024, Defendant George Stephanopoulos, during the airing of his weekly television show, This Week With George Stephanopoulos, falsely stated on several occasions that Plaintiff had been found liable by multiple juries for the rape of Ms. E. Jean Carroll. These statements were and remain false, and were made by Defendant Stephanopoulos with actual malice or with a reckless disregard for the truth given that Defendant Stephanopoulos knows that these statements are patently and demonstrably false. Indeed, the jury expressly found that Plaintiff did not commit rape and, as demonstrated below, Defendant George Stephanopoulos was aware of the jury’s finding in this regard yet still falsely stated otherwise.

The suit goes on to describe Carroll’s allegations in derogatory terms and attacks them as false — contradicting the two verdicts — then cites those verdicts as evidence of their claims against Stephanopoulos:

27. As to the first count for battery, the jury was expressly asked to render a determination as to whether Plaintiff raped Carroll. 28. The verdict form is clear — the jury determined that Carroll failed to prove her allegation of rape and found Plaintiff not liable as to that allegation:

(verdict form)

29. The jury made a finding of sexual assault and, as a result, found for Carroll on the battery claim and the defamation claim. The Carroll II verdict is currently the subject to an appeal brought by Plaintiff, styled as Carroll v. Trump, Case No. 23-793, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

During the interview, rape allegations against Trump became central as Stephanopoulos pressed Mace on how she could support Trump when she is a survivor of rape. Stephanopoulos uses the phrase “liable for rape” repeatedly, but the transcript also reveals that he and Mace discussed the distinction, and Stephanopoulos clarified the role Judge Kaplan’s statement played in his characterization:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, actually, what you’re doing is defending a man who’s been found liable for rape. I don’t understand how you can do that.

MACE: Not in a criminal court of law. This was a civil judgment over sexual abuse, not rape, by the way, and she made a mockery out of it. So, which one are you going to —

STEPHANOPOULOS: Can we pull up “The Washington Post” headline right there? In fact, it has been shown to be rape. The judge affirmed that it was, in fact, rape. Donald Trump was found to have committed rape. That’s just a fact.

MACE: That is a civil judgment, not a criminal court. They’re two very different things and you know better.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you’ve – I just showed you the facts right there.

Watch above via ABC’s This Week.

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